Artificial Intelligence Technology is Killing Bookkeeping…Just Kidding!

babs for bookkeepers libby tech Sep 11, 2023



Today, I want to talk about the Big Bad Wolf of Bookkeeping: artificial intelligence technology.

A lot of people have been wondering if artificial intelligence technology is going to huff and puff and blow the entire bookkeeping industry down. So if you have ever feared artificial intelligence technology and what it might do to bookkeeping, this is for you. Let’s talk about it.



Choose Your Conversations Wisely

When artificial intelligence technology came out, there was a lot of buzz generated by people saying that it was going to eliminate certain industries. And I will say that it will probably eliminate the need for certain tasks.

However, I have absolutely zero concerns about artificial intelligence technology wiping out the bookkeeping industry. In fact, I'm just excited to see how it will help us streamline our practices, whether that's with administrative roles or with bookkeeping itself so that we can do higher-level things we didn’t have the capacity to do before.

We are constantly asked for higher-level analytics that we can't do because it's not possible for us to do all of the things that we do and also give those analytics. We just don’t have time to do all of the things. So instead, those higher-level things have to be placed in higher-tiered offers—like CFO services, for instance.

But if books were streamlined and done for us, what would we then be able to do?

I want you to think that through whenever you start getting scared about artificial intelligence technology.

Another thing to consider: who is feeding this fear in you? If your grandma or friend or somebody that knows jack-squat about bookkeeping is telling you this, why listen?

They’re either fearmongering you or worrying about you, depending on whether you like the person or not. If it’s a family member you love, they’re just trying to keep you safe; if it’s some random person who knows nothing about bookkeeping (or, realistically, artificial intelligence technology itself) then they’re just fearmongering you. Either way, it’s not entirely rational.

You always have to ask yourself this: “Is the person who is putting fear or doubt on me an authority on this subject? Are they a person who has done the thing that I'm looking to do? Are they in this industry? Do they actually know it? Or did they just see a headline of something that was buzzworthy that they want to spit back out onto me?”

Your job is not to convince anybody that they're wrong or that you're right or that it matters. Your job is to be mindful of what you allow their opinions to do to you internally.

Your job is also to make your own decisions about how you show up and lead yourself, about the things that you do, and about the beliefs that you have.

Lastly, your job is to pay attention to who you're having conversations with about your business, and to make sure you’re having those conversations with people who can help your business grow. And if there are people that don't know anything about this industry, that aren't well-connected, and are never going to become your client, maybe limit the conversations that you're having with them about bookkeeping.

I know that this can be hard. In the beginning, when I was starting my business, all I wanted to do was talk about my business for months. I was driving everybody insane, and that’s actually why I hired a coach so that I had an outlet for spewing every business idea. That way, in the other relationships in my life, I could focus on the things that brought us together.

You can share about your business if it's a safe place to do so. But if you share about your business to the wrong audience, and you realize that that is causing an internal struggle within you, you need to find yourself a group of people that you can talk to about your business in a way that is supportive and expansive.

(If you’re a bookkeeper, my program Life By The Books happens to be that place. If you want help and to be surrounded by a community who gets it, who's on the same page as you, who is going to drop the bullshit and get to work, you want to be in Life By The Books.)



Technological Evolution Still Requires Human Beings

So, the other part of this artificial intelligence technology conversation that I wanted to have is this: if you're worried about artificial intelligence technology taking over bookkeeping, I have to ask…how much experience do you have working with clients?

If it's a lot, I am surprised that you're worried. If it's a little or none, then I get why you're worried, because you don't fully understand the things that we actually help our clients work through or the fact that with the rapid change that technology is experiencing, people actually really need us.

Technology is evolving at a much more rapid pace than I have ever personally experienced. More platforms are popping up. Platforms we've been using are adopting new things, and that leads to added complexity. If anything, our clients need us more than they did before, because the different systems that people are using are making everything a bit more complicated right now.

No matter how great artificial intelligence technology and other technology is, financial reporting is still the last thing people consider when starting a business, and they almost always need help to navigate it.

They can track down the thing that solves the problem in front of them—the marketing, the systems, the delivery, the process of getting paid—but they often neglect to figure out how all of that fits into a tax and financial picture. And artificial intelligence technology can’t solve that for them. Bookkeepers have to go into all the platforms they’re using for various things, compile all that separate data, make it neat, and hand it over to the client.

None of this is happening automatically at the time that I’m writing this. I honestly can't see how it would, because all of the platforms would have to communicate with each other for that to work. So I think we'll always be going in and working with the data in ways similar to what we do now.

Do I believe that leaders in the game might get direct, beautiful feeds, and things could become a little bit more streamlined? Yes. Would there always be room for error on systems that would require a person to double-check everything? Also yes. We would always need to be able to go in and review those things for accuracy.

Even if artificial intelligence technology took 80% of bookkeeping away (which I just don't see happening, not today or anytime soon), we would probably be able to continue to charge the prices that we are now to do the work we would still have to do.

In fact, we would possibly even have more time to actually look at and analyze the books or help in a proactive way or help with cash flow or budgeting. It could expand our capacity to be able to help with higher-level things.



Take a Breath

All of that to say, just take a deep breath and try not to panic. Artificial intelligence technology has changed nothing in bookkeeping today, other than making some administrative tasks a little bit easier. Creating content has been a little bit easier. If you play with ChatGPT the right way, you might get some ideas on how to talk to your clients, and you can use things like Loom’s artificial intelligence technology to give an amazing synopsis of the recording that you send your client.

Technology is improving, and artificial intelligence technology is powering a lot of things on the backend that make it easier for us to do our job in general, because a big piece of our job is administrative; however, that does not mean technology is wiping out the bookkeeping process.

And even if it did, I want you to think about the worst-case scenario, and then I want you to realize that it's either extremely unlikely, or that it would open up space for something else.

For instance, look at the new automated toll system. When the Sun Pass (the automatic toll pass in Florida) came out, I remember thinking, “Oh, toll workers aren't going to have jobs anymore.”

Did that eliminate those jobs? Yes, somewhat. But with technology, jobs that existed were eliminated, and jobs that didn't exist were created, right?

You have to trust that you're going to be able to adapt to the marketplace as it changes. And if it streamlines something that we're getting paid to do right now, what does that give us space to then do?

So don’t be afraid of artificial intelligence technology; embrace it!



If you're looking for more tips for bookkeeping, insight on how to become a bookkeeper, and how to say hello to a more confident business model, enroll in Become A Bookkeeper (BABs). 

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